It’s that time of year when many of us are evaluating the past year and making plans for the year ahead!
❓ If you’re like me, you probably spend time asking yourself a bunch of questions in order to mine the wisdom gained and the lessons learned from the past year, so that you can apply it to make the new year even better.
…What did I learn?
…What did I accomplish?
…Where would I like to do better?
…How do I want the new year to be different?
…What self-improvement habit(s) do I want to work on?
…What are my goals for the coming year?
But here’s what I discovered this year:
👉 There’s really just 1️⃣ question I need to ask in order to set myself up for a successful and fulfilling new year.
Ok…one question, and a sub-question.
Here they are:
✅ What went well last year?
✅ And…how can I build on that momentum?
When I asked myself “what went well last year”, it completely transformed my view of the whole year!
In my head, it had been a rough year, overall, with an upturn only happening in the last couple months. And that’s certainly one way to view it that’s not untrue! My husband and I did get hit with a lot of significant and unexpected challenges.
But when I asked myself, “what went well”, I started viewing the year in a much more positive light.
😫 Instead of focusing on the leak we had in our house that damaged our wood floors on two levels…and the two months of fighting with the insurance company to get them to pay for it…and all the stress and worry that came with the thought of having to pay for the thousands of dollars it would take to fix the damage…
😁 …I focused on the fact that, in the end, the insurance company did cover the damage and we got our wood floors refinished on both levels for free!
And since the insurance company paid for everything to be moved out of our house and kept in storage, we went ahead and had our first floor repainted – something that hadn’t been done in 20 years and would have cost us a lot more if we had had to pay the moving and storage costs.
😫 Instead of thinking about how the founder of the start-up company my husband was working for hit the proverbial self-destruct button…refused to pay a lot of money she owed to my husband…and left us in a tough financial situation…
😁 …I started thinking about the AMAZING company he’s working for now that checks every box in terms of the kind of position, clients, team, and environment he most enjoys. His career is now completely aligned with who he is as a person, which is an incredibly joyful and energizing feeling, and he never would have found it had that start-up not fallen apart.
😫 Instead of focusing on the things I didn’t accomplish in my own business and how I didn’t get as far as I had hoped…
😁 …I started celebrating the forward steps I did make, like finishing the rigorous testing process required for my life coach certification (all while dealing with the leak issue!)…writing a compelling signature talk for my business and facing one of my biggest fears by speaking on stage – not once, but TWICE! – without notes…and getting much clearer on my mission and who I want to serve.
Asking myself, “what went well last year” took my focus off of the challenges we faced and turned it towards the gifts that came out of those challenges.
And here’s the thing:
👉 Both views are valid – it WAS a tough year in many respects. AND it was a blessed year.
🔥 What I realized, though, when I asked myself “what went well”, is that I get to choose which one to focus on, and the latter makes me feel a heck of a lot better.
Instead of 2022 feeling like a heavy weight I was still carrying around, I started to feel the momentum that comes with positive energy…
🤩 …and that’s something I can build on!
It’s not that the other questions I listed at the beginning of this post are bad. But the primary focus is on improving things that aren’t so great and making them better.
💪 Just as Donald Clifton points out that we will never excel by fixing our weaknesses; only by maximizing our strengths…
…similarly, I believe we can create the best foundation and most positive forward momentum for the new year by focusing our attention on what went well in the previous year and how we can build on that.
To be clear, Clifton points out that we shouldn’t ignore our deficiencies. But, contrary to the cultural belief that tells us we should put a lot of time and effort into improving our weaknesses, he says we should only spend time fixing them when they are detracting from our strengths.
⭐️ “The point here is not that you should always forgo this kind of weakness fixing. The point is that you should see it for what it is: damage control, not development. And as we mentioned earlier, damage control can prevent failure, but it will never elevate you to excellence.”
I think this idea also applies to the process of evaluating the previous year and planning for the next.
😩 If something happened that’s dragging a key area of your life down…or if you have a habit that’s impacting your ability to excel at something you love (your relationship, health, career, favorite hobbies, etc)…or if there’s an area of your life that’s really not working and it’s impacting your overall happiness and fulfillment…
…then by all means, spend time evaluating exactly what’s wrong and determining a plan for how to fix it.
⭐️ But for most of us, the negativity bias that’s an inherent part of our brain, combined with the cultural notion that we should do everything we can to fix what’s not working, leads us away from the work that will truly propel our lives forward:
👉 focusing on what’s going well and building on that.
So, here’s my question for you today:
❓ What went well for you last year? And, how can you build on that positive momentum in 2023?
🍾🥂🥳 Happy New Year!
P.S. Want to move forward faster in the new year with greater ease? I love helping mission-driven women get the clarity, confidence, and structure they need to live their purpose. Setup a free Meet & Greet call with me and let’s see if we’re a good match! ===> https://soulfireshift.com/coaching/